Friday, July 18, 2008

Reflections on Greek Texts I

Continuing the reflections on last semesters modules, we reach Greek Texts I. This course is taught by Dr Jamie Grant, who is an excellent teacher. The course uses Mounce's Graded Reader of Biblical Greek and, as always, it was good to be using Mounce's material. I had purchased the eBook version as part of the Zondervan Greek and Hebrew library, so I was evaluating the eBook experience as well as trying to get more familiar with Greek.
  • There are downsides to eBooks: it can be good to have paper in your hand, and it takes a while to get used to not having it; if references or directions are given in class ('third paragraph on page 16'), then eBook users are sometimes scuppered, depending on whether their reader or package shows page numbers; in a class of book-users, your laptop looks a bit out of place too!

  • But, the upsides are less cost, less shelf space, ease of access to material (if I have my laptop with me, then I have access to all of the IVP Dictionary series plus a number of Zondervan commentaries and the whole of the eZondervan Greek and Hebrew library, including Mounce. Of course, one huge advantage in eBook use for reference works is the ability to search, especially across mutliple volumes. For these reasons, I'll stick with eBooks if they are available at a lower cost than the hardcopy, especially for reference works.
Highlights are difficult to pick out, but definitely include exegesis of John 15 in the Greek: the Vine.

The exegesis paper for the course was a definite highlight: exegesis of Romans 8:12-17. Dunn's commentary was very helpful, along with Moo and Cranfield of course. Ridderbos and Jewett also made an appearance! But most helpful of all was preparing the required section discussing Divine Adoption. Tim Trumper's work for his PhD, published in SBET, on Adoption was fantastic to read through. His presentation of adoption as primarily a redemptive-historical concept just immediately made so much sense and rang true with some of my own previous thoughts. It's great stuff. Tim is a friend who I've not seen for years - a native of Wales, he trained at the Free Church College and New College before doing time at Westminster (a good pedigree!). He's now minister at 7th Reformed Church, Grand Rapids.

Here's the conclusion from the paper:

Thus, adoption for Paul is a redemptive-historical privilege of Israel – in Christ the benefits of adoption are realised for those who participate in Christ, Jew or Gentile. In this way adoption ‘is not to be viewed in such a way that…(it) is a secondary gift that proceeds from the primary gift of the Spirit. It is rather that the adoption of sons represents the new state of salvation that has come with Christ in its all-embracing and eternal destination’ (Ridderbos, Paul, 200).

This is the explanation of Paul’s linking of adoption with inheritance as consummation of the sonship, especially linked with the Abrahamic and Davidic promises; with the Holy Spirit, who in the prophets would be a defining feature of the new eschatological age, and who maintains the inward communion of God with believers; and with the future aspect of the redemption of the body.

For Paul it is God’s unique Son, Jesus Christ, who has made believers’ adoption as God’s children possible. That adoption takes place through their Spirit-mediated identification with Christ, and entails participation in God’s restored people and (as heirs of God and of Christ) in the blessings and benefits of the promised time of eschatological salvation (Ciampa, 'Adoption' in NDBT).

And so, adoption is both ‘the privilege of the church as the true people of God’ and also a status that ‘affects the individual believer in the deepest motives of his existence’ (Ridderbos, Paul, 204). If the church has struggled to find a place for adoption in a systematic ordo salutis, it is perhaps because its true significance can only be found within a redemptive-historical context.